While the Oakland Athletics hold the wild-card lead in the AL, their recent success also has them in good position to challenge for the top spot in the West.
The A's look to complete a series sweep with a fifth consecutive home win over the Baltimore Orioles, owner of the second wild-card spot, on Sunday.Stephen Drew homered and Jarrod Parker tossed seven solid innings as Oakland (84-61) used a five-run third to beat Baltimore 5-2 on Saturday.Winners in 23 of 29, the A's have a three-game wild-card lead over the Orioles (81-64) and are two back of first-place Texas in the West. Oakland, which has not reached the postseason since 2006, still has seven games left with the Rangers."It's kind of crazy how this team works sometimes," said Drew, whose homer is the only hit in his last 17 at-bats. "It's a good feeling to have, anybody, anytime. It works out well."Baltimore, meanwhile, has a 2 1/2-game advantage over the Los Angeles Angels for the second and final wild-card spot and is one game behind the first-place New York Yankees in the East.Looking to avoid its first three-game skid since July 23-25, Baltimore has been held to two runs in each of the first two games of this set. The Orioles have averaged 3.1 runs while losing 16 of 18 in Oakland. They jumped ahead 2-0 Saturday before the A's broke out in the fifth."No one in this clubhouse is down," Baltimore outfielder Adam Jones said. "The last few days we've been beat. I don't think we've beaten ourselves. We just can't score enough runs."Hoping to prevent the A's from a sweep is Randy Wolf (2-0, 5.68 ERA), who makes his first start for the Orioles after coming out of the bullpen three times since they acquired him Aug. 31.The 36-year-old Wolf went 3-10 with a 5.69 ERA in 25 games -- 24 starts -- for Milwaukee this season before the Brewers released him Aug. 22. After allowing four runs, four hits and three walks in 6 1/3 innings out of the bullpen for the Orioles, Wolf makes his first start since he yielded five runs and 10 hits in seven innings of an 8-0 loss to Philadelphia on Aug. 19."Coming here you kind of feel a little rejuvenated and excited," Wolf told the Orioles' official website. "I think those exciting feelings and rejuvenating feelings are enhanced when you get the call to make the start (Sunday)."Wolf is 1-0 with a 2.77 ERA in two starts versus Oakland, the most recent for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2009.Oakland counters with rookie Dan Straily (2-0, 3.42), who looks for a third straight winning start when he makes the fifth of his career and first appearance versus Baltimore. The right-hander allowed three runs, two homers and struck out eight in 6 2/3 innings of a 6-5 win at Los Angeles on Tuesday.Oakland right fielder Josh Reddick, who had two of his team's five hits Saturday, is 10 for 30 with four RBIs against the Orioles this season.Baltimore designated hitter Chris Davis had two hits, and is batting .444 (16 for 36) during a 10-game hitting streak against Oakland.
Randy Wolf makes his first start for the Orioles since signing with them on August 31. He's 2-0 in three relief appearances thus far with Baltimore.
In a clear case of right-place, right-time, Wolf is just one win shy of matching his entire 2012 win total with the Brewers.